L’amour est un oiseau rebelle.—“La Habanera,” Carmen

It’s said that some people have a memory for names, others a memory for faces. If you’ve met a lot people, it stands to reason, I guess, that probably you can’t remember the Babel of names they constitute, but, as it’s said, I remember faces. But what if you’ve met a lot of people (or more abject and/or undefiled, you haven’t) and you recall neither their faces nor their names? I have this problem; it’s embarrassing. I go out, to functions, and I see a lot of people, and some of them start talking to me, and I’m terrified: These people obviously know me, other names places dates are mentioned, they know me, we’ve met… and I am thinking, Who the fuck are you? Usually I beam a moronic demented desperate smile and yelp, Hi! Nice to see youYou look great… and at the first possible juncture skeddadle. (Nota bene: Always say Nice to see you, never Nice to meet you. Play-act Brooke Astor, like you’ve already met everyone, especially those whom you don’t know from Adam. Be grandiose; be preposterous. Live it up; dream.)

The facial expression wavers between smile and grimace, between incomprehension and recognition. Once at a cocktail party I was reintroduced to someone I used to be in love with. This person greeted me with what I regarded as unseemly intimacy, considering that he never gave me the time of day when it would’ve mattered to me. I scarcely could discern the face that in halcyon days set my foolish heart aflutter. He’s really gone to seed. Jesus, how mean-spirited I’ve become. Melancholia and sentimentality interrupt pre-programmed cynicism. Fantasize about the love you never really felt for whomever enduring still. Think back to poetry class for the appropriate lines from Keats (“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever…”) and Shelley (“I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!”). Decorate your disappointment with the tatters of your education. Have another drink: You know what, fuckface is still kinda cute—cute enough.

The two photographs that mean the most to me are black-and-white passport photos of my mother and my grandmother. We traveled a lot together, three generations in Bermuda, Acapulco, maybe even Venice, I don’t know. These zero-aesthetic pictures unfailingly make me cry. (My eyes are always “shrink-wrapped in tears,” as the Ed Norton character says of the Meatloaf character in the movie Fight Club.) I don’t have any photos of that kind showing me, a snotty spoiled brat.

In lieu of a kiddie passport photo to complete the trinity, I wish I could carry one of fuckface in my wallet, in livid color. His decisive words to me, after a couple of years of beer-drinking camaraderie and horny pining, were: You’re cute but you’re weird. I was nonplussed. I didn’t buy him another round like I said I would. I went home and swallowed a whole lot of valium, but (as I knew) not enough to do any serious damage. These were commentary benzodiazepenes. I think I really loved that twit, and he worked as a waiter in a burrito restaurant. Jesus Christ.

David Rimanelli


José Vives
Born Valencia, Spain

For twenty-odd years, Pepe Vives worked primarily as a painter. More recently he has devoted himself to the pictorial transformation of various kinds of printed imagery, e.g., photographs, newspapers, and magazines. Vives endows typically transitory, evanescent images with the auratic presence of the icon, freely playing off the sacred connotations thereof.

Vives registered at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de San Carlos, Valencia, in 1973. In this school that had changed little since it initially functioned as an artist’s workshop during the Renaissance, he received training in traditional techniques of painting and sculpture which had been maintained there for centuries.

During his first year at the Escuela Superior, Vives was accepted as a novice in the Order of the Jesuits.  Vives spent two years in Seville with the Order. Upon completion of his novitiate, he embarked upon studies in philosophy and theology at the College of San Vicente Ferrer, Valencia. After his graduation, he returned to the Escuela Superior, graduating in1980. He exhibited at the seminal Valencian galleries Charpa and Canem in 1983; the following year he was invited to participate in the Barcelona Biennial. He also received the award for distinguished young artist at the Oviedo Biennial.

In the 1984, Vives left the Jesuits and moved to New York City, where his work was strongly influenced by the aesthetic and social milieu of the East Village art scene. He exhibited at the New York galleries Pompeii, Trabia, Prisunic, Wessel O’Connor, White Box, among others, and at the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, Zeus Gallery, Milan, Arts Works, Miami, and Exuma Gallery, Provincetown.

Pepe Vives still lives and works in the Lower East Side, New York.